Sadly, we didn’t make the cut. Nor did any of the blogs our array of authors contribute to or edit. We didn’t get a Bloggie either — heck, we weren’t even nominated! Are we doing something wrong, internet? Apparently our “master plan” to build one of the world’s most powerful blogs is going nowhere, fast.
Actually, we don’t have a “master plan.” (Breathe your sigh of relief here.) Not having said plan makes it that much easier to accept the rejection — or charitably, ignorance — of the real movers and shakers, I suppose. Schadenfreude at the collective weakness of the majority of blogs I read doesn’t hurt either.
I was put in the position last week of having to explain what separated a blog from a website, and further, why a freshly minted travel community should consider having its own regular blog entries rather than relying solely on user-produced content. I gave the example of a blog I frequent — a company which makes money by facilitating budget-friendly hotel bookings for places they’ve culled and authentically recommend. While I’m generally not in the market for their services, I continue to read their daily updates. The benefit to them: regular traffic to their site, their address at the forefront of my brain should I need a cheap hotel, potential commission; the benefit to me: interesting, fresh content, a useful service (booking ease, reliability of product) when I’m in the market. Were there no blog, I would have visited their page once and forgotten the address long ago. Besides providing me with interesting news, insights and ideas, the blog produces a positive returns for the business straightforwardly and inexpensively. Seems like a no-brainer.
They followed up with a more difficult question I’m still deconstructing: would you still be reading that blog if you didn’t blog on that topic?
It’s complicated, isn’t it? Do you remember your internet habits before you began blogging yourself? Maybe you read a handful of the most powerful blogs along with your daily dose of news, porn, and google searching. Why did you make the jump to producing your own content? And did not that jump launch you into a new world of professional and amateur sites on your preferred topic through its self-referential and niche-specialized network? Perhaps you were already deeply entrenched and others in the network encouraged you to start producing your own content? It’s natural then that we write for each other. The question remains: are we writing for anyone BUT ourselves?
The most powerful blogs seem to break through this wall by reaching an audience so large that it cannot possibly be made up ONLY of bloggers. In doing so, many assume the trappings and appearance of traditional media outlets — while traditional media outlets themselves “build communities” and blur the line — to such a degree that some web 1.0 users may not even realize the difference between the two.
Nevertheless, I spend enough time on the internet to know that a good chunk of readers and their mother (and might I say, their mother is the better writer) has a blog these days. A lot of them are really crappy, most of them are irregularly updated, and yet some earn a pretty penny on advertising or commissions. So if someone is joining a travel community to ask for advice and post on the preparations for their trip and then update with photos and recommendations from the road — a kind of mini-blog — they’re likely the type of person who would be drawn in by an interesting blog on the community’s website. While they don’t have something to update their mini-blog with everyday, they may return to the site to read new blog content and leave a comment, thereby building community. They’re a reader who will appreciate permissions marketing. Other readers will be drawn to the content of the blog (via search engine traffic) and begin using the community site. Again, I feel the returns to a traditional business model are fairly clear.
So what is it that makes a blog powerful? Is it in large part simply its ability to harness (and sell tickets for) the attention of thousands or millions who in some small way are aspiring to be just like them, to have a modicum of their success? Or is there something else I’m overlooking?
In your comments, I’d love it if you’d include the following at the end: Are you a blogger? How many of the Guardian’s 50 blogs do you read? Which sites of that caliber do you feel they overlooked? [Yes, 2, PostSecret]
— written by poetloverrebelspy